Quick and Easy Fruit Cobbler

Quick and Easy Fruit CobblerGobbler of Cobbler
The fourth of July is upon us. So, let the BBQ planning begin. I gotta be honest though, there isn’t going to be much to plan. I’m going low key.

See, we just got back from a crazy (yet fun) experience back East and I just don’t have the mental capacity to put together a big party. I know we will be grilling and we will most likely watch the parade downtown. But beyond that? Not a whole lot going on…

There are some things that you must have on the Fourth. Potato Salad is one. The grilled meat of your choice is second and without fail there has to be some sort of dessert. For most that would be a pie—because nothing says Happy Fourth of July more than a pie. I like a good pie as much as the next guy, but just thinking about rolling out the dough makes me tired.

I’m going the lazy route and making a Quick and Easy Fruit Cobbler. Nothing could be easier. You find your favorite fruit. You toss it with some sugar, a little thickener, throw some biscuits on top and Ta-da! Yummy, tasty dessert that took no time to make. Top it with some vanilla ice cream while it’s still warm and you’ve reached nirvana.

Peach Cobbler is probably the most common. And when peaches are in season, like right now, it can be fantastic. However, the berries that are currently available are also at peak season. And, when you run across a flat of plump sweet blackberries or a few quarts of blueberries, you have the makings of something pretty spectacular. Even better, you don’t have to choose. Mix your berries together to get a little bit of the goodness from each. Or get really wacky and throw some peaches in, too. There are no rules!

Whatever your plans for the Fourth of July holiday, I hope you get to spend some quality time with family and friends…and some cobbler.

Quick and Easy Fruit Cobbler
Both tapioca flour and Instant ClearJel are good choices for thickening. They keep the fruit’s juice clear and the fruit flavor true. The resulting color and flavor is spectacular. Read more…

Citrus Marinated Chicken Tacos

Citrus Marinated Chicken TacosFiesta De Mayo
May is a month of celebrations. There are five birthdays, Mother’s Day, and Memorial Day. It’s a busy month and the official kick off is Cinco de Mayo.

For the record, I do not have one single drop of Mexican blood in me. Not even a little. (I’ve done the Ancestry DNA test. I’m pretty boring.) What I do have is an insane love for Mexican cuisine, which is why Cinco de Mayo is a big deal in my house. My husband went so far as to remind me last night that Cinco de Mayo was this Friday. As if I hadn’t already started planning? Dude, it’s like you don’t even know me…

Cinco de Mayo falling on a weekday can be somewhat problematic. Sure, the fact that it’s on Friday is a good thing since you can sleep in on Saturday. But, it makes menu planning a bit more limiting. For a lot of people, Mexican food means tacos and burritos. And, while this is a part of Mexican cuisine, there is so much more to it. Mexican cuisine has boundless diversity and flavor that varies from region to region. You could spend years trying to experience all of its nuances and hidden tastes. Which is exactly the problem. Some of the best food Mexico has to offer takes time and does not lend itself to a Friday night meal after work.

So, tacos it is with fresh tortillas, preferably homemade. (If you have never made your own tortillas, grab a bag of Maseca and give it a try. You’ll never go back to packaged.)

This Citrus Marinated Chicken Tacos recipe is one I made for my very first Cinco de Mayo celebration 20 years ago. It’s an oldie but a goodie. I have been known to add a little tequila to the marinade when I’m feeling sassy…

Citrus Marinated Chicken Tacos
Yields filling for about eight tacos

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Chicken and Garlic Fricassee with Sweet Garlic Confit

Chicken and Garlic Fricassee with Sweet Garlic ConfitFrench Roots
I feel like we have finally turned a corner. As I look out my window at the clear blue skies I actually think that, maybe, hopefully, please dear lord let it be true, the rain could possibly be over? The calendar says spring after all….

Spring is a welcome occurrence. Weather is probably the most important reason, with Baseball as a very close second. But, for me, it is also a time when I flip a switch on my cooking. As new spring produce comes into market my dinners get lighter and fresher. And consistently, they get French-er.

I always seem to circle back to French food in the spring. Maybe it’s that whole Spring rebirth thing. Cooking French food gets me back to basic techniques so that I can go forth and innovate. Kind of like a spring cleaning for my culinary mind. Clean out all of the winter recipes and start fresh.

I have a number of French cookbooks and one of my favorite authors is Patricia Wells. Since moving to France in 1980, she has become an expert in French cooking with an emphasis on the Provence region where she opened her acclaimed cooking school.

This Chicken and Garlic Fricassee is very French—and very garlicy—but in the best way possible. The garlic confit is a must, so you will need to plan ahead for this one. The original recipe calls for a whole chicken cut into 8 parts. I prefer to do this with bone-in chicken thighs

Joyeux printemps à tous!

Chicken and Garlic Fricassee with Sweet Garlic Confit
Adapted from The Provence Cookbook by Patricia Wells

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Spring Pea Soup with Burrata

Spring Pea Soup with BurrataGolden
My parents celebrated their 50th Anniversary over the weekend. Stop and think about that for a minute. 50 years. How much of their world has changed and what have they experienced since 1967? (And not just the birth of my sister and me!)

In 1967, Lyndon B. Johnson was the 36th President, and the Vietnam War was in full swing. Ronald Reagan was sworn in as our new Governor in January. A fire killed the crew of the Apollo 1 spacecraft while they were testing on the launch pad, and halted the space race in the US for almost 2 years. The Pirates of The Caribbean attraction opened at Disneyland, in California. The Bee Gees released their first international album. Lastly, Elvis and Priscilla got married. But that wasn’t the biggest wedding of the year. The biggest event, at least to my sister and me, happened March 18th in Oakland, CA.

To be married for 50 years is no small feat. It’s not as common an occurrence as it used to be. Frankly, the fact that my mother has survived my Dad’s snoring for that long without smothering him with a pillow is mindblowing…

There is no way you can let such a milestone like this pass like it is any other day. We celebrated as a family, in style. ‘Cause that’s how we roll. There was a limo and there were fancy clothes. And, because it’s us, there was food. Really good food. And plenty of good things to drink with it, courtesy of Boulevard in San Francisco.

If you ever have the opportunity to dine at Boulevard, do it. I have been there multiple times, and it is always fantastic. That particular night, I enjoyed a green English Pea soup that was amazing. Like, lick the bowl amazing. Alas, that particular recipe is not in their cookbook. (I happen to own a copy…shocking, I know) Nancy, if you or any of your fantastic staff are reading this (‘cause why wouldn’t she?) I would LOVE to have the recipe or maybe even and updated cookbook?

For now, I am on the hunt for something that might come close. I am working with the recipe I posted below—perhaps it’s the closest yet? But we’ll see. The first-of-the-season English peas should be in the market soon. Though, with the return of the rain, who knows? In the meant time some quality, organic, frozen peas will be used. When you do get your hands on some fresh peas, grab as many as you can. And try this cream-free soup as a perfect spring lunch or light dinner.

Spring Pea Soup with Burrata
Yields 4 servings

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Grilled Tuna with Spicy Garden Salsa

Grilled Tuna with Spicy Garden SalsaSwimmin’ with the Fishes
Anytime the weather turns sunny and a smidge warmer, I tend to start eating more fish. Maybe it’s the looming promise of bathing suit season but at the first signs of spring, I feel the need to eat a bit lighter.

To say that I dramatically increase my fish intake would be a stretch. It’s a relative thing because I’m not a big lover of fish. I tend to gravitate more towards a cheeseburger.

When I do make fish, I like to go simple with a lot of flavor. That may sound contradictory but let me explain. If I had to pick my favorite fish recipe it would be this one, Salmon Roasted in Butter. It’s so quick to make and with some really fresh Salmon—it melts in your mouth.  One cannot live on Salmon alone, though. It would be boring.
Next best way to make fish? Grill it.

Next best way to make fish? Grill it.

Not all fish does well on the grill. But, Tuna is one of them. Because they are hearty and firm, Tuna steaks are perfect for the grill, and are a great alternative to red meat. They even work well as a burger (for those times when you crave a burger but have to be good). And it happens more than you think…

I usually just brush on some olive oil and sprinkle the steaks with a little salt and pepper. If I want to brighten the flavor up a bit I will top them with mango salsa or even better, with real salsa.

Grilled Tuna with Spicy Garden Salsa
Adapted from Rick Bayless

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